bitty being nervous about nhl scouts part 2
The television was black and blank. Only faint static filled the room. But then an ESPN logo animation and a few bars of a nighttime show jingle brought it awake.
Four men behind an odd futuristic desk began talking.
A man spit toothpaste into a sink, opened a door, and stepped into the room, facing the screen with his whole body.
“–and as for our moresurprising prospects leading into the summer, we have some really non-traditional hockey markets, you could say, showing up–”
“Really, there isn’t a nontraditional hockey market anymore–”
“What we’re talking about is–”
“Well look. Look. All I’m saying is,” One of the men piped up, spreading his hands, “Is Eric Bittle worth a look because he played with Jack Zimmermann, the Falconers’ leading scorer, who snagged a nearly-unprecedented A on his sweater in his first NHL season? Do the teams courting him think they’re getting a version of that?”
“I’d say no, Chris. Everything about this kid is different. His play is less polished and less physical. And yes, I know he’s still going to grow into his man body. He has a completely different relationship to the game. What they are probably looking for is a forward who has detail with the puck.”
“Then they’d be better off with Mike Rooney or, heck, Danniel Carson. People who can help a team right now, who have more under their belts. A Frozen Four win is great but–”
“We need to bring up his height. Maybe being under six feet tall in the NCAA works differently. You can’t teach height–”
“As a former short hockey player,” the third man to the left said, “no, you can’t teach height, but you shouldn’t need to. And yes, he might play a less physical game, he might only work in Samwell’s unique system of defensemen and linemates–but he has come this far after a concussion as a freshman. And then there’s the story. He’s from Georgia, if an American team winds up with him–there’s your angle. His dad’s a noted football coach. This kid is on Twitter all hours of the day and night–this is PR a team will love–he has a baking vlog, for Christ’s sake. This is the new NHL, walking and talking, and there are so many fans he can reach. possibly new players who didn’t think there was a place for them in sports even if they are talented.”
“I forgot that–his concussion kept him out of play for a bit.”
“You can’t teach bouncing back from an injury like that, either.”
Bitty turned off the TV and watched the bright bouncing dots vanish. Then he lay flat on his back on the bed. The moment he hit the pillow he was out. It felt like a moment later that he was awake again. Except he wasn’t in a bed, he was in a room, and his mother and father were seated next to him. And everything was bright for a moment, and in a loudspeaker a voice called out words that he couldn’t understand very well–and then he was on a stage, and a red cap and a jersey was given to him–
and the words formed themselves again as he tried again to understand them–
“…ick of the 2017 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens select Eric Bittle.”
Bitty stared at a camera he didn’t own and tried to push the stiff cap down on his head. Tried to make it feel attached and close like his helmet did. Because it felt like it was barely perched there and could fall off at any moment
and be an omen.